In honor of national marriage equality, a repost from 2012.
It has been a long day.
I revealed my marital status to a new friend. It had become so awkward, all those silences, the gaps from my side of the conversation. The last couple of times we’ve talked, it’s sounded like I’m divorced, so that was weird.
Saying something also felt awkward – not exactly a small-talk comment to just drop in casually.
Revealing something like this can go so badly, can divert even the most normal of conversations into strained territory.
But today, the awkward scale tipped, and I went with the awkwardness of saying “my husband died” rather than continue the missed beats and odd silence.
If a relationship is going to continue, I can’t keep evading such a large part of who I am. At some point, things get stuck and can go no further without feeling false.
I told my new friend about my marital status because we were discussing the equal marriage legislation that went into effect at 12:01 on the 29th. City Hall would be open for marriage licenses and weddings. Some friends of mine were giving out free boutonnieres.
I, of course, made cupcakes.
I told my new friend about my marital status because going to City Hall with wedding cupcakes was not just a casual thing for me.
It was a gesture directly from my life, from my heart, from what I knew about love, and about loss. I baked for a few days, and then an also-widowed friend and I spent the afternoon frosting. We made 10 dozen pretty wedding cupcakes, infused with the blessings of widows.
The blessing of widows is a little like the 13th guest in a fairy tale, the guest who wants to give an uncomfortable beauty. I got to say it silently so many times that night:
Not wanting to be a downer on other peoples’ wedding day, I didn’t wander around that night repeating the whole blessing out loud. No one really wants to hear about death on their wedding day.
A photographer did ask why I was there, giving out cupcakes at City Hall, and I gave them the blunt, less poetic version. The closest I came to an out-loud blessing was when I offered wedding cakes to a couple who asked what they could give me in return.
I held their hands briefly as I said:
Please my loves, all of you reading here today, please have a long and happy life.
How about you? How have you navigated new friendships with people you’ve just met? And have you ever felt like that 13th guest at the table, silently giving the widow’s blessing to those around you? Let us know in the comments.
And be sure to check out the Writing Your Grief e-course, where we spend a little bit of time creating our own 13th guest stories. Please join us in the next session. We’d love to have you.